When I was becoming observant, I used to to try to explain all my amazing revelations to the people I was closest to, but quickly saw how uncomfortable it made them, so I stopped. Well, let’s just say I tried to stop, lessening the frequency with which I bombarded and beseeched them.
“Show me, don’t tell me,” was the advice I got many years ago from Gail, my best friend from college, after I sent her an impassioned letter about the truth of Torah. When I told her about the Beis Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, she said it was if I were speaking French. When I suggested she light Shabbos candles, that it was a sacred time for Jewish women to thank G-d, she responded with her characteristic candor: “Thank G-d for what? Another lousy week?” (I don’t think “lousy” was actually her word choice, but you get the idea.)
I didn’t know what to say to her then, and I don’t know what to say to her now, or to anyone, whose life hasn’t lent itself to a relationship with G-d. But I do know one thing: G-d really needs better PR.
Why are calamities known as “acts of G-d,” and all the wonderful miracles that happen every day known as “Mother Nature”?
No wonder people don’t think they “believe” in G-d; they’ve just stopped talking to Him. Who wants to believe in a G-d that only wants to trip us up so He can punish us?
Is belief in nothingness or a not-so-intelligent designer better? At least these beliefs let the True, All-powerful, All-Knowing, All Everything G-d off the hook for all the suffering in the world. And that’s before we talk about the Jewish experience. Let’s face it, we could look at our collective history and make an excellent case that G-d may indeed love the Chosen People, but He sure has had an interesting way of showing it.
Despite this, something still keeps Jews wanting to be Jewish, even in today’s open society.
Such is the power of the Jewish soul that burns within.
Superficially, a mitzvah may look like a restriction but it shares the same root as tzavsa, connection. Their observance connect us in our most mundane aspects of life with G-d, helping to turn up the flame in our relationship with Him.
My initial conversations with G-d were not always so pleasant. After my initial religious enthusiasm wore off, I remember I felt like I was doing Him a favor much of the time. I didn’t particularly like to cook but had to do it in order to keep kosher. Pesach preparations felt like torture. And while I was inspired by the selflessness and kindness part of the mitzvah package, trying to attain these qualities in myself proved harder than it looked.
But I kept on talking the talk and walking the walk. And G-d and I became closer as I saw He was right about everything. Especially when He talked about His Unlimitedness and how I could, and should, tap into that in order to be truly happy. Now we were getting somewhere.
One of the way G-d wants us to connect to Him is through bitachon, trust. It’s straightforward to explain, though it is meant to be a service (read: hard to do). I only learned about it in detail a couple of years ago and was amazed that G-d has embedded such a force in the world. It can only be a good thing to try to share it even though you might not believe that it’s true.
But here goes.
When a person, any person, attaches to G-d from the depths of his or her heart, certain that G-d is the source of everything and is all good, a suprarational bond with G-d is forged. Through that complete and sincere trust, that bitachon, regardless of that person’s merit, G-d responds by bestowing revealed good upon that person, also beyond the natural order. This is not to say that we simply “trust” and expect miracles; G-d has set up the world such that He works through natural channels. The farmer has to plant in order for the crops to grow. But a farmer with bitachon understands that it is G-d, not the sun nor the rain nor his farming talent, that makes the crops grow. G-d wants us to work through nature, but, ultimately, to trust in Him for the desired results.
Believe it or not, it is a very un-Jewish thing to worry.
But, let’s be honest. We’ve had what to worry about as Jews. And as people. So it may take some time and effort to learn how to use the unlimited trust fund you may not have known you have.
But we all have it. And now you know you have it, too.